Friday, February 25, 2011

Week 4 in the Mission Office

This week we got a very brief note that concerned us:

Subject:  Really quick

We ran out of time to write right now, but I'm going to come back in a few hours to finish. I have a good half of my email written. Just don't freak out if I actually can't send it off until Monday. But it'll come.

Yea, I don’t think so.  We’re not waiting until Monday.  We would, in fact, “freak out.”  Fortunately, we didn’t have to wait that long.  3-4 hours later, we got the real email.  Good thing for him that he sent it!

The precursor to this message was much good about everything.  James went home from the hospital, David’s grandfather went home from the hospital.  And Lindsay’s baby Reese was born.  As we mentioned in our letters, “Yesterday was a good day.”

Subject: “Don't worry. Your computer is in a better place. Actually, it's in the same place, but now it's got a big hole in it!”

Yesterday really was a good day.

I absolutely love all the good news this week. I didn't really realize before now how many things were truly working against our family as a whole until now, when I see it all clearing. There you go. That should be good material for your talk, right Dad? It seems like in the last few weeks you've been given a ton of stories to share about adversity.

I feel like I should probably start reading my emails backward. Every time anything big happens, especially baby births, I get like five emails from different people that all say, “As I'm sure you've heard by now, Lindsay has had her baby.” or “You've probably heard already that James is doing better.” Actually I hadn't heard, but it's nice to hear the official news from six different sources before I read it from the actual person. It doesn't really affect anything I guess, I just thought you might want to be self-conscious the rest of your life.

Mom, I really appreciate you. Some of the things you say to me just fill me with joy. For example, “I forgot how much I love to spend money on my grown kids.” Oh Mom. Remember when I went on my mission and will have nothing when I get back? We'll have fun. Trust me.

Stacey, I'm sorry to hear about your ear thingy. That's kind of rough. I just had to say, though, that that's ironic that you had to wait hours for URGENT care. Ha. “He's in managed care. It's ironic, isn't it? He never managed to care for me.”

I also really laughed hard at some of the pictures this week. The one with Darci and the turkey leg probably wins, but the first one of Mike holding Reese right out in front of him gets honorable mention. Not because the picture is really that funny, but because I can basically hear Mike thinking, “Well, what do I do with this?”

But as I said, yesterday was a great day. You all know about the family stuff, but really for me it was good as well. We had interviews with president, and it was really awesome. He kind of machettied us a little bit since we still have absolutely no baptisms in the entire zone this month. That would be really bad if we end up like that. In all of President Lopez's time here, it would be the first time that it ever happened. But the interview really just boosted me and helped me to remember to do everything I can to become better. One of the last things that president said to me was that I should always ask myself if what I'm doing is the best thing I could be doing. That will help me to stay focused and active as a missionary. That's kind of something that you parents tried to teach me, too. Anyway, after that we went and taught the Vega family and Dennis, who are two of our investigators. They were really good lessons, and the whole time I was just focusing in on how I could invite the spirit more.

That's about all I have time for, but I want to explain really fast what happened today. This morning I had to go to the hospital to get a blood sample for my drivers license, and then we had to go to the equivalent of the DMV here to get the equivalent of my social security number so that I can get my license. Let me tell you, being in a foreign country isn’t really that different. You still have to wait hours at the DMV. So I came to write late and we ran out of time, and we had a zone activity where we went and played soccer, and now I am here again finishing this up really fast. I still don't have all the time I should, but there you go.

Thanks for all the support and all your emails. And for all the good news. This week was really refreshing after so many with bad news. I hope you all stay strong in your studies of the Book of Mormon, too. It really is a cool book. Also, I'm going to upload a talk to this email for you all to read. I want your opinions on it. That's an assignment.

I love you all!

Elder David Arrington

Friday, February 18, 2011

Week 3 in the Mission Office

As background, this message was preceded by a number of emails from the family articulating that little James De Rurange was back in the hospital ICU in critical condition.  It was a somber time for us all.

David is settling in to his office assignment, learning the ropes.  He also uploaded some pictures of the office.

Subject:  “The Cheat always freaks out when he sees a bear holding a shark.”

DSCN2470Wow. I really blew it. I spent basically almost forty minutes reading your emails, mostly because I was simultaneously trying to upload pictures. And my keyboard spacebar is broken, so it's really weird to type. So sorry if this is short.

The news about James is pretty horrible. I was kind of surprised in a not good way by it, but it sounds like everything that can be done is being done. Including, apparently, robbing my mission fund. Thanks for that. Actually, as I was reading from Julie that the kids were DSCN2472getting money together I told myself I would tell you all to take that out of my account. It looks like you know me perfectly. I will also, of course, start a fast after lunch today for him. Let me know if there's anything else I can do from thousands of miles away. That I can do next week, because unless you tell the Duzetts to tell Sam something in his Monday email to call me to say, I won’t get it until then.

DSCN2473For me this week was much less eventful. I'm still getting the hang of the office, but it's been really fun. I'm pretty on top of things, but I still just don't know some of my jobs. But I will soon. The only things of note that happened this week in the office that I have time to talk about would be that we got super ahead in our work, so I'm feeling pretty good about it. We kind of mess around there, though, and one day Elder Oliverson needed a USB drive from Elder French, but he wanted a frosty in exchange for getting him it, and then Elder Oliverson wanted one in DSCN2474exchange for buying him one, and so we got together and created a totally legitimate contract, notarized by me. We even got pictures of the signing. I could totally be a lawyer. However, now Elder Oliverson and I have been conspiring to get me one, too, so we scanned the contract and basically Photoshopped it so I get one from Elder French as well. On Monday we'll go in and reprint it, switch it with Elder French's copy, and grab his camera so we can Photoshop the pictures we took as well. We're diabolical.

DSCN2479My investigators are kind of not really there. We really don’t have much time to proselyte, so it's a little rough. More than anything we're teaching the Vega family, who read the Book of Mormon occasionally and have come to church before, but don’t want to come back because they don't have any fancy clothes. That's something that people have a problem with, here. No shirt and tie, no dress, no shoes, etc.

DSCN2483I did actually upload some pictures this week. They're mostly of the office. There are a couple of the place that we played soccer this morning. It was the first time in over six months I've played on a non-concrete field. Anyway, the room in the office where everyone is is mine. The guy at the computer, if I remember right, is Elder French. The other one in a chair is Elder Vasquez, my comp and the migration secretary. Elder Oliverson is the one at a computer in the other room, and he's DSCN2485the records secretary/really funny/seen almost the exact same movies that I have/that includes You've Got Mail, which we quoted for like half an hour one day/he's even seen the Tenth Kingdom. Oh yeah. DSCN2486This could be the start of something great. Elder Huaman (pronounced Wa-Mon (like pokeMON)) is the financial secretary in his own little office. The Peruvian. Also, There's a picture of Elder Gonzalez, who came into the office the same time as me as the new migration secretary.

DSCN2487Okay, everyone is getting ready to go, so I'm going to head out soon. Thanks for the emails and such, even though I don't have time to thank you each individually.

Oh, and Julie, I have an assignment for you that might make you laugh, so it's doubly important. Elder Oliverson and I were talking about how funny Jack Handys are, since he also knows those, but we need a DSCN2491list of them. So would you mind emailing me some kind of massive compilation of Jack Handys? DSCN2494That'd basically make my day.

I love you all! Tell James to get better, by the way.

And Elder Ballard, my ZL, says hi. And so does Elder Campos, my other ZL.

And the other day I used the word harom in a sentence. Don’t I feel educated.

Elder David Arrington

Friday, February 11, 2011

Week 2 in the Mission Office

Yes, David is no longer a teenager.  He’s gone and turned 20 years old in the mission field!  All seems well in the office as we learn more about his new assignment…

Subject for this week:  “You see, me? I don’t run into walls. It hurts.”

I will now attempt to answer any and all questions from you all. But I won’t get to them all, mostly because I don’t remember them all. Tough luck.

P-Day is now officially on Friday because the office needs to be open on Monday. I don’t know why it is okay to be closed on Friday, but it is.

My companion is Elder Vazquez, and he’s sweet. I don’t actually have many investigators to teach at this point, that are progressing at least, but we’ve got some referrals that seem really positive. And yes, I will miss being able to proselyte as much, but this office experience is already proving to be really fun, really cushy, and really get-machettied-by-president-a-lot. I guess those are all good.

Okay, I’ve already forgotten the rest of the questions. Sarah keeps bugging me about getting my new address out, so here we go: it’s the same. The way mail works is that it all gets sent to the post office, where it is now my job to pick up every Thursday. I sort it, and the zone leaders come by on Tuesday to pick it up, and then pass it out on Wednesday. Clearly, I have the advantage and get things early. Which reminds me, I did get a very nice letter from Grandma and Grandpa Arrington, Kaci McNeil, and Aunt Shawn/Uncle Mike. So thanks. And although they didn’t come until yesterday, I did get a package from the family and from Julie. So a BIG thank you for that. However, I haven’t been able to open them yet. I put them in the car and then found out I was going on interchanges, so I haven’t been back home yet. After we go bowling today as a zone I’ll head home and open them, though.

The big news this week is that I have insider information on something big. This big news has been common knowledge in the office for months and is just now starting to be circulated amongst the non-office missionaries. And I’m sure you’ll all have a million questions for me about it. Here we go. The mission boundaries are changing. When the new mission president gets here in July we are losing the Los Heroes, Lourdes, and La Libertad areas to the East mission, and we are moving the mission headquarters (president’s house, office, our house) to Santa Ana. That’s lame. That means the El Salvador temple will no longer be in our area. Stupid. I think that will also make us the El Salvador Santa Ana Mission. But not until July.

This week was pretty good, and pretty simple. The weekend was short because we have weekly planning all morning on Saturday and church at 1 on Sunday (fasting was a nightmare). And then Monday we were back in the office preparing for the ZLs to come pick up their zones’ stuff. Crazy times. My work there is kind of repetitive sometimes, but it’s more fun than that. And the people I work with are really fun. And we can order fast food delivery. Did I mention that before?

I can’t really think of anything super exciting that we did in the office. I called Elders to tell them some orders were in for various things, I created a small updated phone list that all of us in the office use, I updated the president’s wall in the office and in his house (the board that shows where all the Elders are in the mission), I did the mail run, we got a new printer, etc. I feel like I’ll have less to talk about now that I’m there.

I do have one crazy story for you all, though. Just last night I was in La Cima with Elder Ballard, one of our ZLs, and we went to go teach this family that was getting ready for baptism. It was a mom and her daughter, and they’ve been through a lot. They used to go to some other church but the pastor sexually abused this girl and she’s pretty messed up from it. But we got to this house and it felt strange. The girl was crying really hard about how she wants to get married to this guy she knows and have lots of kids with him, but that he doesn’t want to. Okay. Then she suddenly stopped crying and like went to sleep for seriously two minutes. When she woke up she seemed really dark and serious and she told us that she got an answer that she should not be baptized. Her story was that she went into the bathroom one day and just started feeling really strange and she heard some kind of voice say she shouldn’t be baptized. And she took that as an answer from God. We showed her a little bit about how that’s probably not from God, and then she kind of laid down for a minute again and then was really happy all of the sudden. Then out of nowhere she started sobbing again and talking about how her cousin wants to sexually abuse her and all this really, really weird stuff. And then back to the super serious I-don’t-think-I-should-get-baptized part. The whole time, by the way, we’re also trying to talk to the mom, who really wants to be baptized in the chapel that’s being built next to the temple. We were trying really hard to explain to her that she can’t because she doesn’t live there, and it won’t be opened until August anyway (by the way, the temple opens August 21). Also the whole time, their stupid little white dog was barking a lot and then quieted down but (I’m not even joking) it started trying to hump me and Elder Ballard’s legs and arms and just wouldn’t leave us alone. In the end, we left with the baptismal dates still somewhat in-tact, but we both seriously felt that that girl has some kind of demon. We were both thinking we should give her a blessing or something, but we didn’t. I think he and Elder Campos, his comp, are going to next time we head over. The mission is really weird.

Okay, that should suffice for now. I hope you all have a fantastic week, and that everyone is not sick, nor staying up all night with newborns. And a big thank you to Mom, Dad, Stacey, Julie, Sarah, President, Whatever bank we use, and myself for emails this week (one of my jobs is to email elders that got packages, so I got one from me saying that). And just a heads-up Julie, I did in fact get that last email, but I enjoyed reading it twice. You might want to think about shrinking your pictures down anyway, though, because they come out on my end stupidly big and I can’t see them.

I love you all! Thanks for all your support, and the birthday wishes!

Elder E. I’m-not-a-teenager-anymore David Arrington

Friday, February 4, 2011

David Arrives in Monserrat, Los Heroes

Apparently that’s pronounced “err-oh-S”, see below.

David surprised us with a letter on Friday.  Why, we might ask?  From what I gather, Friday is now his Prep day.  We had kind of settled into a system, and now everything changes!  Ok, we can deal with it.

The pictures below are from Atiquizaya taken mostly during the last week when he was there.

Let’s hear about his new responsibility as Mission General Secretary…

SubjectWell isn’t that a pretty picture. Santa rolling around in a Panzer!


DSCN2443So, I have a couple of things I should talk about before getting into the meaty stuff. First, I have no idea why the email got to Sarah before the rest of the family. I always write to you all first, and then with whatever time (if any) that I have left, I write to Sarah. It was just weird I guess. As far as the iPod and the music and stuff go, I noticed that the music folder is now on there, and I would encourage any and all to add music to it. The iPod still hasn’t showed up, and at this point I think it’s just gone. Kind of lame, but there it is. It’s also great to hear a little bit more news about James, but since it’s only been a few days since I last wrote, there weren’t many updates.

DSCN2444Now I have a lot of things to talk about. As you all should be aware, I had changes this week. It was a little rough and unexpected, since that meant that two new Elders would be coming into the area without anyone to teach it to them, but they ended up coming a day before I left, since that’s when the new Elders come in, and one of the Elders in El Angel now was training him. So I took them to at least enough places to get them started, I think. And then Wednesday I got on the coaster and came to San Salvador.

DSCN2448I am now one of four missionaries in the Monserrat, Los Heroes area. That’s pronounced los err-oh-S (like the letter S), not los hee-rows. Monserrat is basically how it looks. Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures yet, but I’m uploading a bunch of older pictures and goodbye pictures from this change. I’m kind of bummed to leave all those missionaries and families, but oh well. It happens.

I basically got to work asap with Elder French, who while not my comp, is kind of my mentor. My Yoda, I suppose. Apparently, while I’m at the office, we don’t really have companions. We just all work. And from what I hear, my companionship will get a cell phone, I will drive the car way more than anyone else, and I get my own office. Sweet perks.

DSCN2454This week I’m still just starting out, but I’ve been put to work. We needed to create some letters with pictures of the new Elders and the president to send to their families, basically letting them know that they’re okay and who their new comp is. So I did that, both in English and Spanish, for all the new Elders. I sent them to president and got them approved, and then we sent them out. Very exciting. As a luggage problem.

I also got to cut up and laminate a bunch of little mission-standard card things, call some people to get or give referrals, and the like. Yesterday we went on a Lyco run, which I’m sure stands for something, but I don’t know what yet. We just drove out into the East mission to stop by the distribution center and the post office, where we picked up people’s church material orders and mail, respectively. I like picking up mail, so I think I’ll enjoy this.

DSCN2457Things at the office are actually pretty busy, and there’s always deadlines coming up. For that reason, I guess, a lot of days I will be heading in early, staying super late, or some mixture of the two. For example, today, P-day, we had to go in for a couple hours to finish those cards and run them to a zone leaders meeting in Santa Tecla. But normally I should be leaving the office around 4 or 5 to go to my area. It takes about forty five minutes to get out there, and we have to take a few buses, but I think I like it. Of course, this is my first big-city area, so everything is really confusing, but it’s kind of cool. My comp is Elder Vasquez, from Guatemala, who is also the travel secretary. We went to visit a couple investigators and almost set a date, so that was cool. I also visited two members, and between the two of them got five referrals. That’s a lot better than in Atiquizaya. The only kind of rough part is that, as I said, we leave late and get there later, and in order to get to the house in time we have to leave the area by 8. For those of you at home doing the math, that’s between two and three hours of proselyting on a normal office day. I do get to work all day Sunday and Saturday, though.

DSCN2459The house I was living in in Atiquizaya was really nice. I don’t know if I told you all that. Most of the other houses are way smaller, way dirtier, and just worse. The fact that we even had the ability to hook up hot water was ridiculous. The house I’m in right now is the assistant`s house. It seriously puts the house in Atiquizaya to shame. Two full floors, four bedroom, four bathroom, washer, dryer, TV, garage, etc. It’s super nice. But, of course, it has to be. Nine Elders live there. And we’ve got two extra beds for when visitors come (seventies, for example). And we have a room literally full of mattresses, because when new Elders come or go, they sleep on the floor downstairs. That being said, the house is really unorganized. Not really dirty, just cluttered. No big surprise there, with how many twenty year guys live together.

DSCN2462San Salvador is big, but it’s also really nice. A lot of people here are really rich. And we have almost all fast food places I’ve ever heard of. But no Taco Bell. Last night I was hungry, so me and Elder Oliverson, the records secretary, ordered some McDonalds and had it delivered. We were going for Pizza Hut, but we barely called too late. Well, they closed early, because it definitely was not nine thirty yet.

There’s also a lot more technology here. And there’s several pretty big malls. I’m writing in one right now, and its soooo much better than before. The internet here is ridiculously fast compared to the Cibers I was writing at before.

DSCN2463What else is there to say? I’m not sure that I can check this email account more than every Friday, but it might be possible. I can, in fact, listen to music at the office, and my computer has speakers. I’m not one hundred percent sure that there’s a way for me to get online, though, since there’s probably some kind of internet filter system. We’ve only actually used the internet so far to access the mission database with all the missionaries’ profiles, so I have no idea if I can go to anything else. But we’ll see. Worst case I can just copy the music from here to a thumb drive (there’s a lot in the office) and listen to it there.

DSCN2464Alright, that’s about all I can think of talking about. I’m sure I’ll remember something later, but it’s going to have to wait until Friday. Thanks again for all your support. I’ll try to let you all know more about the work I do there. I’ll have plenty of time to do it. Office Elders are there for a long time. Elder French will have six changes there, I think, by the time I take his place. That’s like nine months.

Elder David Arrington

PS: Stacey, if you’re up to it I have a job for you. I listen to a lot of classical music in the car while we’re driving, since it’s the only radio station allowed, and I wanted to get better at recognizing what era the music is from, what style it’s in, what kind of orchestra it is, where the recessatives are, blah blah blah. All that stuff. So if you have nothing better to do (You don’t. You’re a stay at home mom with a helpless child that is only capable of minor neck control) you could throw together a review sheet of basically everything we learned in Music 101 and send it to me.